Dinkytown Hotel - (1300 block of 4th Ave SE)

Northeast, Near North, Camden, Old St. Anthony, University and surrounding neighborhoods
Silophant
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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Silophant » August 23rd, 2013, 9:39 pm

Wait, you guys were all reciting from scripts? Here I was ad-libbing the whole time!

Yeah, I'll probably wind up getting into a few heated internet arguments myself about this. I'm not going to seek them out as I occasionally did for Opus, but I'll definitely argue against crap like that when I see it.

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Nick
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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Nick » August 24th, 2013, 8:43 am

My two cents:
  • This is in bad taste so soon after the Opus fight. Would agree with an above poster that someone probably should have gone for the old Blockbuster site first.
  • More density on the site isn't necessarily bad in and of itself, but it should probably have a deeper setback.
  • The design overall isn't great.
  • Is that really a fake second floor set of windows? I'm pretty sure it is. That absolutely shouldn't be allowed. This isn't Main Street, USA, or even Arbor Lakes. The ground level looks tacky.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby John » August 24th, 2013, 12:32 pm

It's definitely a weaker design than the Opus project. What I hope happens is the Planning Commission recommends some revisions to improve the quality of the project, and mitigate its scale a bit ( i.e maybe some setbacks as stated above). Luckily, I think Doran will be under pressure to respond to some concerns given the controversial nature of development in this area.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby FISHMANPET » August 24th, 2013, 4:36 pm

Save Dinkytown are a bunch of morons, I say tear down Dinkytown and build the Vikings stadium on those four blocks, just to piss them all off.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Snelbian » August 24th, 2013, 4:54 pm

That's not really a great solution. Four blocks is a waste. Just demolish Al's.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby FISHMANPET » August 24th, 2013, 5:33 pm

What's the worst possible national chain we could replace Al's with?

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Anondson » August 24th, 2013, 5:47 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:What's the worst possible national chain we could replace Al's with?
Sbarro's? (For the food)

Chick-fil-A? (for the protests it would draw)

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby MNdible » August 24th, 2013, 6:09 pm

For historical salt in the wound rubbing, it would definitely be the Red Barn, although they don't exist anymore.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby TheUrbanGopher » August 24th, 2013, 10:42 pm

Here is my beef on it through an urbanist standpoint - The Opus development ADDED streetlife to an essentially non-existent section of Dinkytown. This project REPLACES an already good land use, as well as a classic streetcar-style building (although the coffee shop facade could be better).

Also, this project doesnt set itself back away from the street. A big reason that I liked the Opus project is because of their conscious efforts to at least try to save the "character" of Dinkytown by setting back the upper floors. This does not do that nearly as well (and the fake 2nd floor windows are hideous).

Finally, like Nick said, the timing of this proposal was absolutely horrendous. I have said Save Dinkytown has many good intentions in the past, and I still believe it. Dishing this out less than a month since the City Council vote was adding insult to injury, and if the SDers want to find a way to be effective in allowing smart development, more time is needed. (A moratorium is not needed, beeteedubs.)

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 25th, 2013, 10:31 am

How much can we really hold developers to in terms of taste? I agree second story fake windows are tacky. I agree a larger setback might be appropriate given the current scale. I disagree that the brick facade/cornice/arch are not attractive. But even if it were, how far can neighborhood residents, urbanists, or anyone else go to halt development based on personal opinions like that? Yes, the current land-use fronts the street very well. But the current land-use doesn't have 100+ bedrooms on it, either. Not every building still standing from 1910 or 1930 has what we'd call perfect urban design. Furthermore, at what point in a future would a building with no setback above the 2nd story be allowed if we're only ever accepting designs that fit the current style/character?

I don't know that Doran should be blamed for the timing - am I correct in assuming they bought these parcels before any ruling was made on the Opus project (or the UTEC site for that matter). Unlike Opus, Doran seems to be committed to holding on to the properties they build. They seem to be looking to work with the neighborhood on the design (which shouldn't be a requirement but they're doing it anyway). But should we expect them to wait on their proposal for SDers or anyone else to better craft an opposing message to de-rail the project or for the market to become less viable when someone else builds projects under the radar that may not have nearly the urban design this one might (the 14th/8th and 15th/7th projects come to mind)?

Like I said, I'm not going to be such an active proponent of this project, but I fear that if that's the case with people on this board who are among the biggest urbanists in the cities, the opposition has a pretty clear path to block projects like this in the future.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Suburban Outcast » August 25th, 2013, 3:58 pm

I think people might get the wrong idea and think this is all part of some conspiracy ploy to tear down Al's, leading to more people to protest for a moratorium on development. At least that's the type of vibe I got from reading comments from the Dinkytown Not Megatown facebook page.

They might get less opposition if they wait awhile and let that group lose steam because now this gave them another reason to keep going.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby MNdible » August 26th, 2013, 11:40 am

Article from the Strib, which includes this argument from Doran:

He argues that his project would actually protect more important Dinkytown attractions on the 14th Avenue corner — like the venerable Al’s Breakfast — since it leaves behind parcels too small to develop.

I'd thought this myself. Not sure if anybody would buy this as a justification, but this project, combined with the Opus project, would seem to make the NW corner of 4th and 14th too small to be attractive for a large-scale redevelopment.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby min-chi-cbus » August 26th, 2013, 11:48 am

I'm not entirely sure why that's a good thing, considering that I doubt Minneapolis wants ANY lots in the city to be "undevelopable".

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Chef » August 26th, 2013, 12:18 pm

I love Al's and am in no hurry to see it go but it is important to remember that restaurants don't live forever. Someday Al's is going to close and then nobody is going to care about that space, you can't consider a building historic solely to protect the business that currently resides in it.

I worry that in a hundred years Al's will be long gone and people will be looking at the building it was in and wonder why we saved that rather than the (much more attractive) streetcar era storefront that Doran wants to tear down for this project.

I added a major edit:

I guess because I have always been focused aesthetically minded things I care as much about making the city look good as I do about density. I think that the city is too quick to support the destruction of attractive buildings that are part of our architectural and aesthetic patrimony in the name of 'progress'. It might seem like we have plenty of early 20th century brick streetcar era buildings but if we let them be torn down willy nilly then at some point they will all be gone and we will be poorer for it. Our historic preservation laws don't seem to be particularly useful in this regard, they wouldn't have prevented the demolition of 100 year old buildings for the construction of the Lyndale Trader Joes and they didn't prevent the architectural abomination that is the Uptown CB2. So we need a different or better mechanism. The city also once had plenty of Victorian era commercial buildings but they are almost all gone now. There are still so many gaps in our streescape that we should try to prod developers towards those instead. That is why the Opus project is a much better one than this one.
Last edited by Chef on August 26th, 2013, 12:39 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby FISHMANPET » August 26th, 2013, 12:22 pm

Al's is a turd of a building, it's only held up because of the business that's in it. Granted, the method of operation owes itself to the shape of the building. Is somebody going to take over Al's when the current owner retires? I guess I wouldn't be surprised, and maybe Al's can stay around forever because it's not one of those businesses that people want to keep around but don't ever shop/eat there, Al's is a successful business.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby MNdible » August 26th, 2013, 12:26 pm

You raise a good point, but I do feel that there are certain businesses that get so wrapped up in the psyche of a town that extraordinary measures would be taken to keep them running. To my mind, Al's and First Avenue are at least a couple of institutions that fall into that camp. There aren't any particularly good governmental mechanisms to do so (although St. Paul apparently has a slush fund to help underwrite struggling businesses -- see Mai Village).

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Didier » August 26th, 2013, 12:43 pm

In three years Al's will have outgrown its current space and moved into the Tofu House.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 26th, 2013, 1:18 pm

I dream of the day when a 50' deep by 100' wide building with what looks to be enough gap on between it and the Espresso Royale building and another access gap around the block's corner can be re-developed with offices/residential above an existing ground level while maintaining the existing facade... profitably. I have no idea if that's technically possible (loads, ventilation, etc) but seems like regs are the bigger impediment.

To that point, if we are really concerned with saving streetcar-era brick building facades (which, in my personal opinion are nothing special or unique, they simply reflect the design/construction/material use of the time) like the site of the Doran proposal, why wouldn't the public (or in this case the small area people concerned over preservation) be willing to give a grant equal to the additional construction cost required to incorporate it to a new design?

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby exiled_antipodean » August 26th, 2013, 1:33 pm

Not sure if the economics or the historic preservation laws are different, but in Australia and New Zealand (latter an earthquake zone where those cute 100 year old Edwardian brick buildings are a big hazard) there's lots of new developments wrapping round old ones.

Parking minimums are less stringent in some of those cities, which may play into it.

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Re: Doran Dinkytown Development

Postby Tom H. » August 26th, 2013, 2:54 pm

Didier wrote:In three years Al's will have outgrown its current space and moved into the Tofu House.
Ha!


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